• School Districts
District Highlight: Peninsula School District honors Puyallup Tribe with naming of schools

The Peninsula School District recently chose to name its new elementary school Swift Water Elementary to honor the band of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians that once inhabited the area. The school district is on the ancestral lands of the Puyallup Tribe.
The name Swift Water is taken from the translation of the Lushootseed word sx̌ʷəbabš (Squal-bob-shh) which refers to the swift currents of the Narrows Passage between what is now Tacoma and the Peninsula area. The Puyallup Tribal Council sent a letter to the district before the official name was chosen, stating they approved of the use of the name if chosen.   

A naming committee, made up of parents, school staff and district administrators, sifted through community suggestions and forwarded five names to the school board. The board voted unanimously in February on the name.  

This naming was done “in a good way,” as they say in Native communities. It was not just a random Native American name slapped on a school. It was done with discussion and the support of the local tribe using a local tribal word translation. Educational leaders across the region expressed gratitude to Peninsula for their continued leadership honoring Native students and families and are excited to learn about future educational opportunities for tribal education that may come from naming the school with such an honorable name.


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